Mark­ing 20 years

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE -

As Wat­son In­tegrity cel­e­brates 20 years in business, the de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish the com­pany was a long time in com­ing for prin­ci­pal Ken Wat­son, who has notched up 33 years in the in­dus­try.

Wat­son In­tegrity is an in­de­pen­dent com­pany owned by Ken and his sons Mar­cus and Greg and Ken’s wife Tanya is Chief Ex­ec­u­tive.

The com­pany started out as Wat­son Real Es­tate and was fur­ther branded as Wat­son In­tegrity.

Ken gained his first job as a sales­per­son with McKen­zie Real Es­tate and al­most im­me­di­ately made his mark on the in­dus­try.

"I was earn­ing ex­tremely well as a sales­per­son so I was in a po­si­tion to open my own business with my own phi­los­o­phy. It was a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion it was just a mat­ter of when it was go­ing to hap­pen," says Ken.

When the prin­ci­pal of the com­pany heard a whis­per that Ken was con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of open­ing his own business he was asked to leave im­me­di­ately.

"It was crazy, I had 17 ex­clu­sive list­ings, to­day most sales­peo­ple would have any­thing from five to eight list­ings.

"I was vir­tu­ally forced to open a business. I was out on the street and I had to make a de­ci­sion about open­ing a business."

Early in his ca­reer Ken worked with San­dra Wil­son who he de­scribed as a very good sales­per­son so ul­ti­mately they formed a part­ner­ship and Wat­son Wil­son Real Es­tate was es­tab­lished.

"As in many partnerships in life our way of work­ing was dif­fer­ent, we had dif­fer­ent philoso­phies so San­dra bought me out of the business."

At that point Ken’s wife Erin was un­well so they made the de­ci­sion to move to Nel­son where they had fam­ily. Ken con­tin­ued to work as a real es­tate sales­per­son but it was af­ter seven months they de­cided to re­turn to Palmer­ston North.

"My wife felt that was where we were happier and both our sons were here so we de­cided to come back and open a real es­tate business. Mar­cus was ab­so­lutely keen to come on board. Greg had just fin­ished at univer­sity so he came in to help us set up and never left. So we started in 1996 with just the three of us, now 20 years on there are 27 of us."

Born in York­shire, Ken and his fam­ily em­i­grated to New Zealand.

"I came from a fam­ily that had a very eth­i­cal back­ground to­wards par­ents, school and church so at the age of 13 when we left Eng­land that was well ingrained in me and the 27 peo­ple who work here take that same eth­i­cal ap­proach to real es­tate.

"When­ever we have new peo­ple start­ing here I al­ways say to them that in sur­veys of the most trusted pro­fes­sions real es­tate sales­peo­ple are rated third from the bot­tom of the list, just one ahead of sex work­ers, so my drive from day one has been to change the per­cep­tion of real es­tate sales­peo­ple. Many peo­ple are very ner­vous about

hand­ing over what is gen­er­ally their most valu­able as­set to a sales­per­son so I have never de­vi­ated from that in 33 years. And of course the word in­tegrity comes into it and that it is in our brand­ing for a very good rea­son."

Ken says it has taken him all of the 20 years that Wat­son In­tegrity has been op­er­at­ing to come to terms with the com­pany it is.

"We are a fam­ily com­pany and that makes for a won­der­ful am­bi­ence be­tween our of­fices in Palmer­ston North and Feild­ing."

The fam­ily con­nec­tion within the com­pany arouses a lot of in­ter­est.

"I of­ten get asked how Mar­cus, Greg, Tanya and I can work to­gether. A lot of peo­ple say to me I could never work with my son but it works for us Af­ter 20 years of work­ing to­gether we have yet to have our first ar­gu­ment and that says some­thing about our business. We have all got dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity types that work well to­gether. We are able to sit and dis­cuss things, there is no lay­ing down the law."

Since es­tab­lish­ing the business Ken’s role as prin­ci­pal has changed. As the business grew, Ken spent less time sell­ing real es­tate and more time on the business it­self.

"I have spent a lot of years sit­ting be­hind a desk, driv­ing my­self mad."

Now Ken is back out do­ing what he loves best and that’s talk­ing to peo­ple about real es­tate.

"One of my great­est en­joy­ments in life is ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple on the ins and outs of sell­ing their house. I love ex­plain­ing the process and I’m in my el­e­ment when I am talk­ing to peo­ple who want some help."

Ken is part of an Ef­fec­tive Business Unit (EBU) with Ash­leigh Key and Charles Allen.

"We all have spe­cific roles. My role is to talk to peo­ple about what’s en­tailed when it comes to sell­ing a house and giv­ing them the very best ad­vice. Ash­leigh’s role is mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions and keep­ing Charles and I in line. Charles has be­come most suc­cess­ful in his role which is specif­i­cally only work­ing with buy­ers. It’s a very unique ar­range­ment in many ways and it is prov­ing to be very suc­cess­ful."

Over the 16 months the EBU has been opearat­ing Ken says it has gained in strength.

"It has just be­come stronger and stronger. Work­ing with the EBU is an ab­so­lutely ex­cel­lent way for clients to re­ceive the high­est level of ser­vice. Of all the prop­er­ties we have sold in the last 16 months we have never had one per­son un­happy with the out­come."

Ken, Ash­leigh and Charles have pro­duced a book en­ti­tled Here To Get You There. Con­tact them if you wold like a copy.

From Ken’s point of view the fu­ture looks in­cred­i­bly bright.

‘‘We have a wide cross sec­tion of age groups within our com­pany but the one I am par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about is the ad­vent of younger peo­ple join­ing the in­dus­try.

Ken says tech­nol­ogy is such an im­por­tant part of their pro­fes­sion to­day and younger team mem­bers em­brace this very eas­ily.

‘‘This will only get stronger as time goes on.’’

Ken says the com­pany de­cided some time ago that ‘like-minded’ peo­ple were who they were look­ing for to join their ‘fam­ily’ and at this point this adds up to 27.

‘‘We have a great am­bi­ence in both of our of­fices at Wat­sons. We will con­tinue to be in­no­va­tive in our best prac­tice of do­ing business and we will never change our strong eth­i­cal ap­proach,’’ says Ken.

‘‘Ev­ery­one should be treated fairly and pro­fes­sion­ally where hon­esty and in­tegrity is the name of the game.

‘‘The fam­ily of ‘Wat­son’ will still be in real es­tate in Manawatu for many years to come.’’

The happy team at Wat­son In­tegrity out­side their of­fices on Broad­way.

Mar­cus, Ken and Greg Wat­son circa 2004.

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